New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday reached out to women, saying they are ahead of men today while addressing the FICCI Ladies Organisation in New Delhi. Calling for the need to integrate and financially empower women to achieve growth and make India a developed country, Modi said that they constitute 50 per cent of the country's population and India could become a developed nation only if the women of the country were allowed to come forward and contribute to the economic betterment of the nation.
In keeping with his carefully cultivated image of a pro-industry and development oriented leader, the Gujarat Chief Minister highlighted the entrepreneurial spirit of the womenfolk from his state and pitched for the growing woman entrepreneur, saying that every woman has entrepreneur qualities and values and it was the society's responsibility to nurture that streak.
"Now, women are two steps ahead of men. We need to recognise the power of women. Boys want to marry women who are working, times are changing. It should not be only for financial interest, the mindset should also change," Modi said.
Citing the examples of women leading the business from the front in Gujarat, he said that brands like Amul, Lijjat and Jassuben pizza were all driven by women entrepreneur. "In Ahmedabad Jassu Behen's pizza is very popular, people prefer those pizzas over Pizza Hut pizzas. Jassu Behen died 5 years back but her pizzas still capture the markets of Gujarat. Lijjat papad was started by Gujarat's tribal women. It's a model of entrepreneurship," Modi said.
However, he also pointed that women were not given the respect that they deserve in the India of 21st century and female foeticide was rampant in the country, including Gujarat which he claimed was much more developed than a major part of India. "Our ideas have only deteriorated with education, we are becoming more medieval than we were in the 18th century. In the 21st century, girls are aborted inside the mother's womb. Both men and women have a role to play in this crime. This happens in Gujarat too. The data on female infanticide is shocking," Modi said. He categorically said that men should not underestimate women at all.
Striking a chord with the women business leaders, Modi used his oratory skills to paint a grim picture of the country if the Congress for the slow economic growth of the country and also blamed the Governor for stalling empowerment of women by claiming that a bill providing for 50 per cent reservation for women had been blocked by her.